the Wayst land

(Belated) Father’s Day greetings

Life is longest as mountains,
Happiness is much as seas

Calligraphy and poem by Janney.

Alameda Creek

Walking the same path most every day reminds me of the blues line—I’m Leaving’ town runnin’ ’cause walkin’s mos” too slow . . .

What does it mean to “Know Something,” or “Know Some Thing?”  How many things are there in the Universe? Is there a finite number of things? Will humans ever complete an inventory of every thing in the Universe? i.e. will they ever deferentiate every thing from all other things and give them all names?

Human beings  were not always on Earth. The Earth is over 4 1/2 billion years old, life  is 3.7-4.5 billion years old.Human  1-2 million years ago—chose your own  estimate, for this post the difference is not important. Homo Sapeins are about 300,000 years ago, a very, very, short period on earth represents a very very tiny part of the history of Earth, yet it the history of Earth knowing itself. 

In the beginning  there was no book  of instructions, no knowledge.   People were born, survived  and evolved —we are here today— beginning from matter which was not people and which behaved in a way resulting in survival.

We use words to represent these thing in speech,  writing, and now as  electronical impulses. Still the spoken word, the written word or the electronic word are not the thing itself, they are an abstraction  separate from the thing  that we use to represent the thing in communication with others.WordsWords

When we use a word such as “See the tree”, we see a tree, not because the Universe made a tree, but because people have agreed this is what atree is. Its a tree because we call it a tree.

All of these words, whether spoken or written were made up by people who were not intending to go around making up words but developed from the   behaviour of people  in the process of survival creating a tool for communication in differentiating a thing and giving it a name.

But having a name for a thing and “knowing it” are not necessarily the same thing. In the history of survival people had to adjust to changes in their experiences and just how many different sounding grunts can you make? Still, figure it took humans a long time, in human time, to create language, but its a very short time in Earth time.

Words, spoken,  written or electronic, are a discrete thing, some thing we have a common agreement on  the meaning, yet when we look at each situation in using the word the “thing” a quality, may have varying quantitative differences—houses are not all the same size, skies are not always the same blue but no matter what the differences, in human communication  and because its the communication which is important, we  “naturally”  submit to the shared meaning . .Its one reason we survived. .

Unless, of course, there is a specific reason not to, which is unusual and may even be considered eccentric or deviant. We all have different experiences, no matter how small and its the suppression of our different individual experiences to the commonality of our society which effects a social structure of behaviour,

Through all of this evolution no two human beings are exactly the same, have exactly the same experiences , but generally their experiences are close enough that the words of the language have a Real Meaning.

Human biological capabilities to know through experience are the five senses . . .
and then there is Reason—to know some thing without the sensual experience. of that thing

Giving a thing a name, a definition, is using Reason.And both are part of being human.

Cannot count the cows unless you “know” what is a cow and what is not a cow.

The Universe is a bunch of small particles moving around, joining together here, parting there, and joining together with different particles somewhere else , and over and over. It is humans who define the cow as separate from the air and the ground—to the Universe its all one thing, itself, the universe. Without humans the Universe does not know itself and perhaps does not care —or maybe there was a moment when it did care which is when human beings came into existence.


Imitation Kasuri in the clothes store, Kasuri is an old Japanese fabric generally dyed with indigo and related to Indonesian Ikat which is generally many different colors. At one time in Japan there were laws concerning which “classes of people” could wear what fabrics and farmers were assigned kasuri. Even today you may see women working in the fields wearing mompei

An old piece of kasuri which has been hanging somewhere in our house for over 35 years. The cotton thread is dyed and then the fabric is made, traditionally on a hand loom but today probably on a machine.

Driving in the country in Japan you may see women working in the fields wearing mompei—pants made of kasuri.

Sky in Amherst, Massachusetts

Table and windows in Salem, Maine

What is the meaning we look so hard to fail to find? Would you know if you wakened the Buddha inside of yourself.

all dharmas are marked with emptiness;
they do not appear or disappear,
are not tainted or pure,
do not increase or decrease.
Therefore, in emptiness no form, no feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.
No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch,
no object of mind;
no realm of eyes
and so forth until no realm of mind consciousness.

Heart Sutra

Know knead too no


Dragon Boat Festival

Danwu, Dragon Boat Festival, is on the fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese calendar and has been observed for over 2000 years.
Chinese Dragon Boat by Janney

There are different stories concerning its origin, One more commonly known concerns the death of the poet and government minister Qu Yuan (e.340-278 BC) , ancient state of Chu during the Zhou dynasty. When the Zhou, in its decline, made alliance with the state of Qin, Qu was against it and banished him. Twenty-eight years later the Qin conquered that area and Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the river. He was popular and local citizens rushed out to their boats and tried to save him.There exist writings from the Zhou Dynasty, we have Iching, said to be written by King Wen while in prisoned during the last breaths of Shang, before establishing the Zhou.

Writing was an interesting invention. In English we have an alphabet of 26 letters use to make words we speak and sometimes we make up words using the letters which we do not speak, such as many drug names advertised on tv. .Using English the calligrapher has to control form to maintain a visual designed consistency from letter to letter—as if they were one typeface—to make a spoken word. Basically letters by themselves do not have a meaning-reference to “things” but to a sound which has has a defined meanng.If we do not know the word we can look it up in a dictionary.

HanziChinese characters—have a different situation. Its not just the sound, the character is an illustration, a graphic representation, of the meaning and refers to “things” and when writing, each character may both illustrate a thing and expose the feeling’s of the calligrapher about that thing.

Calligraphy poem for Chinese Dragon Boat Festival by Janney

Alameda Creek

Individuals experience the world through their five senses, most ( but not all) people have these common functioning senses with capabilities which may differ quantitatively but qualitatively we share these common experiences, it gives us a “common sense, ” a shared Reality that works with having a language.

I see some thing, you see some thing and we find our experience is similar enough to differentiate the “thing” from other “things,” and give it a name so in the future we can use the word to represent the thing without first checking with each other to see if we had a common experience about this thing, do we share the same meaning.

Meaningful communication with others— Its a survival tool of human beings.

Meaningful communication is not that we feel good about sharing with others, rather as individuals we are experiencing the universe and finding it to be a common experience—it enables us to function as a society and as a society we can successfully survive.

View culture , not as a ting, but as a process . People do things—behave— and they survive. Those things that they did, —the behaviour they did— enabled survival and they do them again, and survive and do them again and they become the way.

Human behaviour in a social setting i.e. a society, generates a culture field, and, like from gravity emerges a field which results in a structure of behaviour for big and small particles in the universe, out of the behavior of individuals emerges a structure of behaviour, a social structure,

The expression of this structure of behavior is the culture. Behaviours which worked are repeated because they work and its repetition which creates a social structure.

One thing about human behaviour in a social setting is that repeated behavours result in some individuals becoming more skilled in that behaviour.

None of these behavours were before “the start of humanity,” humans evolved, probably as science says, and those that got the survival behaviour right survived—Is this edible? Is it safe to sleep here? Once these survival behaviors are repeated (because they worked) they become common behaviours, i.e. part of culture. Once a society can survive the behaviors are commonly accepted and people in the culture find meaning in the behaviours.

Once a society can survive a structure of human behavour is formed,. If nothing were to change this structure might last for infinity. Culture is conservative in that it establishes a structure of behaviour based on past behaviour, not future behaviour.

But things change, weather and climate, pandemics, big rocks in the universe collide, these can all create new situations be1cpming the natural conditions for survival, and requiring behaviour changes. As mentioned before, when people do things repeatedly they get better at it.

A successful society may have developed tools for producing food and a structure of society is formed which includes a set of behaviours for distributing the food. As people get better at food producing, maybe tools get better, they have a food surplus in the present, but the cultural set of behaviours appropriate for distributing the food are based on the conditions of food scarcity in the past.This generates a conflict between the established behaviour based on scarcity and the new realty of surplus.

Some basic questions about knowing—People can sense (see) there is a food surplus but mentally they are socialized in the culture and will feel more comfortable behaving in the accepted traditional way. but some hungry people and some others, not hungry but with compassion, may want to change the traditional behaviour for their benefit while others may feel the traditional behavior is the should-do behavour—conflict may emerge naturally as society evolves.

You can sense this model in very early humans where it was day to day survival with very slow technical changes in food production and compare it to the present — in my life time of 75 years there are thousands of new words for new things and 30%-40% of eatable food is thrown out daily while about 815 milion people on earth are starving and many more surviving from malnutrition.

Hearts left at home

On the one hand we can only  experience the universe  through our senses, on the the other hand, if there are things outside of our senses how can we ever know them—through Reason? Can we use reason to discover truths about the nature of the world? 

San Francisco will open this week

This was part of a discucssion between empircists and rationalists in philosphy. Descarte thought he could prove the existence of God and the immortality of the soul  through reason, the  rationalists, such as Hume thought  we canonly discover (know) the universe  through experience.

Cable car riding will be free for about a month, at Powell Street.

Kant suggest the Copernicus experience—For humans on Earth it looks like the sun revolves around the earth,  but once we understand gravity, by reason we know the earth revolves around the sun, but it looks different to our visual experience.

The corner at Powell and California St with steep slopes on all four corners, blinking red lights , cable cars go up and down both streets, and may turn the corner leaving oad vehicles and pedestrians to figure out the correct protocol for getting through the intersection. Its not uncommon to see visitors to SanFrancisco just stand there for 10 minutes until they figure out they are the only person who decides .

Empiricism can never experience (know) any part of the universe independent of our  biological senses  yet our brain is part of our biology  and it enables us to reason out reality. What is the “best practices” approach to using our senses and reason for knowing. Perhaps this is a question  to which we will never have an answer but it is the scientific method which has been the most practical tool to combine experience and reason 

Late afternoon a few blocks west of Stockton, slope down.

People are the universe looking at itself. Does the universe make judgements about itself, perhaps the is what evolution is? Are changes determined by what happened in the past?

If I could write a story like Dashiell Hammett something would happen at the yellow window of the grey house, maybe starring Ned Beaumont.


Is there a finite number of particles in the universe? Or no matter how micro or macro we get, will there always be more to discover? Could it be that people are not discovering these new particles but creating them inter process called discovery— a chicken & egg. process.

Destruction & Creation—Shiva’s role in the Universe was to destroy things to create new things. What kind of world is it that has more answers than questions?

Heart Sutra in my workroom and a painting by my grandfather Ray Naegele. For many years m grandfather worked at a bus manufacturing company, he ha a patent for designing a seat, In the 1940s his four sons joined the US Army, he lost his job, I know my father left school — Case Institute of Technology) for one year to help him financially. (The other sons might have done the same, or probably did something else to help also, I do not know.)

Gate Gate Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhisvaha
Heart Sutra brushed by Janney.

High, ding insighed

Denkoroku is a record of the transmission of, and the circumstances of that transmission, of the Buddha Mind, based on talks by Zen Master Keizan (1268-1324). Daopi was the 40th patriarch of Zen. When you think you are such a person who are you not.

Abandoned homes., whether in country, urban or suburban, create a visual tension. Who lived in the house? Why did they leave? Why is no one living there?

Its missing the shutters on the ground floor and one on the second. The front door does not have a walk to it. The front door seems a bit narrow.

Some people on Earth make their living by creating visual art representing Buddha for inexpensive, sometimes cheap, markets. This seemingly very content, perhaps smug? Buddha was given me over 30 years ago as a “souvenir” from a visit to the birth place of Shaka Buddha. What does it mean, “Compassion of the Buddha” ?

Over 50 years ago, the Old West End neighborhood inToledo. In the USA many people have cars, drive places and park their cars.

Alameda Creek

Carbon dating enables humans to determine the age or date of organic materials.

A photograph enables us to go back to a moment in time and our mind & emotions enable us to give that moment a special value as amemory which, when needed, works to remind us of better moments.

A photograph may be a “real image” of what was in front of the lens, but what was in front of the lens may also have been a “constructed set” — movies do it all the time. Or perhaps worse, the image is “real” and the caption is misleading or lying—the former may happen with good intentions, but the the latter is usually with bad intentions.

All we can know is the past, but that ability to know the past is also the commitment of the present to communicate with the future.

The Universe created people to know itself, and people have become diverted to use that time to know themselves.

Perhaps its out of control, this constant differentiating & defining, the need to be creating, the need to have a history, the knead to no who we are by knowing, and noing, who we were—our history.

Creating tools to make marks —writing tools—and mediums on which to make those marks—most significantly paper— and the tools to make mass printings—the printing press and now light printed on the computer screen.

Electricity powers light which is not just to enable functioning in the dark, but for the expression of written language which is used to communicate with and between human beings as well as from machine to machine.

The problem with electricity is that people do not have individual biological anywhere anytime —natural— access to it Even Tesla coil needs the coil to get-go.


In September of 2008 mom suffered a stroke with severe memory loss and developed expressive aphasia. She lived about 5 hours drive over a 7200 foot mountain which could require chains by November. The first time I drove up immediately to deal with legal matters; during my second visit I began to think about the future. Out of ICU but still in the hospital undergoing therapy, we had lunch —I had a delicious tuna cheese melt on sourdough—I thought a “kind of not so healthy” menu item for a hospital but it tasted so good.

Somehow I think she always knew something had happened that qualitatively changed her life . . .

. . . but try as hard as she could, she could not understand what happened.

She knew inside she was someone, but she could not remember, no matter how she searched inside of her self, she could not find those memories that would tell her who she was, those secrets inside of her she was never to know again.

“The winds [of discrimination] cannot enter this place of knowing. When you penetrate it throughly and fully, [you will realize] that you have possessed it since time immemorial and that t has not been absent for a second. Even though you seek it through thought , that [itself] is the Self and nothing else”.
Denkoroku Francis Cook

Alienated from yourself—everyday you are you, busily preventing yourself from knowing who you are.

Awaken the you inside of you. Do we believe that if we do not have a stroke, do not lose memory, do not develop expressive aphasia, that we are in touch with our real selves?

Early in the morning they will chant Heart Sutra at Sensoji.

Seal script brushed by Janney.

Per sway shuns amidst sin say shuns


Belmont street on the Highland Ave side of the hill. Circa1 1970

Maybe from Winter Hlll, maybe from Charlestown, Somerville was a city of rented flats in triple deckers. Circa1 1970

Waiting for the bus at Highland Ave and Belmont Street, Circa1 1970

Alameda Creek

I have lived along Alameda Creek since Fall 1993, use it mos’ dally ,and, since Covid while my use has probably increased, other activities away from home have been minimized, though increasingly less on “our way back to normal.”

The words and the photographs in this blog may seem unrelated.— “What do scenes along Alameda Creek have to do with whimsical notions about knowing?” Many people would not even get there, but they would not be here to begin with.

A photograph has a certain “quality” to it, whether film to paper or digital on screen, whenever unconscious senses that quality, it connects with the “common fact” that a photograph is “light controlled by a machine (independent of humans).” In spite of the visual experience , in the photograph there is a clue to the question “What is it.”

A photograph may be used it to define and identify very specific qualities of things that you could not do with a woodcut, etching or silkscreen. Would you use a wood cut or silkscreen as visual proof of identity on a passport?

There are things that we “know unconsciously ” a photograph is, and some of those things are ore than just the “realism” of t he image, its also unique qualities of the photographic process itself, how does the image visually feel.

Do you just look at it and “know” what is going on? Its a photograph1; Its a drawing!; its a woodblock! When you ID the technique unconsciously you consult your internalized standard which uses “feeling” as a “tool” to measure. A woodblock has a certain feeling to it; . . . an etching has a certain feeling to it, . . . and a photograph has a certain feeling to it.

What is “Art” supposed to be? . There are samples of visual images by humans from over 30,000 years ago, I believe that is before writing if you only consider primary evidence, though its likely that pre-history “art” developed both images and visual representations of spoken sounds (written language) along side and interactively with each other.

Writing and Art enabled humans to have the ability to speak from the past but first we had to develop the ability to develop. the skill is not just that we have the ability to develop things, but that we have (evolved) the ability to develop that ability in the first place.

Having “realistic contemporary” paintings of people or events in history is still not the “visual evidence ” that a photograph will carry.

A drawing is an artistic effort uniting both the skills and interpretation of the artist; a photograph, regardless of the artistic effort always contains “a piece of visual reality” —unless its been manipulated.

When a drawing, a silkscreen, a wood cut is not an exact representation it is an artistic interpretation , but when a photograph is not an exact representation then its said to have been manipulated — perhaps photoshopped!!

Make no judgement on this matter . . .

Visual makes life more fun..

Marshall McLuhan seemed to think that a balance of our senses for knowing was important and that since Guttenberg and print had increasingly made visual the dominant sensual experience at the expense of the four other senses, negatively affecting our ability to sensually experiences balanced or total reality.


Line, color and texture.

San Francisco in the afternoon light, from a hill where in the late afternoon parrots used to gather.

Color, texture, gesture, form— maybe the most interesting part is the wall in the background.

Are we knowing the best we ken.

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, Bodhi svaga